University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach John Shulman brought up the San Francisco 49ers' comeback from an early 17-0 deficit in the NFC championship game during his Mocs' pre-practice meeting Monday.
He did not make a comparison to UTC coming from 19 points down to Appalachian State with 6:36 to go last Thursday.
"They've got an identity," Shulman said of the Niners, who won 28-24. "And we don't."
And he's not happy about it. The Mocs have surrendered 90, 88 and 86 points in their last three games -- two losses and one win. Shulman also pointed out that UTC held Kansas, now ranked No. 3 in the country, to 69 points at the beginning of the season.
"I'm worried about identity," Shulman said. "But we have been brutal defensively."
In what aspects?
"It's accountability, alertness and maturity," he said. "I'm worried about the communication with transition 'D.' That was poor, and that we'll work on. I'm more worried about that than [Tom] Tankelewicz hitting a 3 over a hand."
Shulman said he will make changes in the starting lineup for Thursday when the Mocs (8-11, 3-3) play a Southern Conference game at Elon (11-7, 4-2). But he's not set on -- or not declaring -- those changes quite yet.
"It's not a threat. We need to make changes to get off to a better start defensively," Shulman said. "They're yet to be determined. We're not bad in all five spots -- a couple spots. I want to see someone make a statement out here."
Freshman guard Gee McGhee received the message, even though he's been switched off original assignments to defend players who have had hot starts against the Mocs.
"I'm guessing that Coach doesn't feel like some of the guys are playing up to their ability," McGhee said. "I guess that he's trying to look for a better fit so we can stop coming out of the game slow."
Senior guard Dontay Hampton has been one of the better perimeter defenders in the four games he's played this season. He played Saturday despite having a broken shooting hand. He told Shulman on Monday that the swelling had reduced.
But it still looked like a balloon or as if he had stuck his hand in a beehive.
Hampton will not practice with the team. Getting treatment and remaining in cardiovascular shape are his basketball priorities until the Mocs play Thursday.
"I saw it today and I'm like, 'Oh you had a relapse,'" Shulman said. "And he told me it's way down."
Hampton referred to the swelling. The words are also an apt description of UTC's defense -- way down.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.